Midweek Reflections

We Win!

 

Read: 1 John 5:1-12

With the arrival of March the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament will capture many fans attention. Each team (not Illinois) will begin their quest to win six games in a row and become the 2018 National Champion.  Many of those fans will fill out their brackets and choose who they think will win it all.

If we knew who was going to win it would be easier to fill out those brackets.  But then that would take away much of the excitement.  Kind of like hearing a friend tell us about the end of a good book or movie before we actually get to experience it for ourselves.

Sometimes however it is nice to know the outcome of things.  Christians who are followers of Jesus have this assurance through our faith.  In 1 John 5:1-12 we are told that those who are born of God and are believers in Jesus as God’s Son will overcome the terrible things of this world.

While there is much good in this world we are often weighed down by the difficult consequences of sin, evil, violence, and disobedience towards God.  Too often people get down on themselves, get upset with world issues, and feel hopeless in the midst of it all.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Jesus can help us to overcome and win.

I recently heard the song entitled “We Win” by the Christian music group Mercy Me.  The words are a testimony of how believers can approach those difficult things.  It says, “This goes out to anyone down for the count, it’s not over, don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel, just remember who you belong to, let me remind you how this ends. We win!”

Make it Personal:  This is one case where it is great to know the ending.  Whatever it is you are going through, dealing with, trying to overcome, or get through, I hope you will read these words in 1 John 5 and take heart of what faith in Jesus Christ can do in your life. Jesus can help you be an overcomer!

Many blessings,  Pastor Glen Rhodes

 


Saving the Children

 

Read: Matthew 25:31-46       

There are great areas of need around the world.  From the neighborhoods of our communities to the other side of the world the opportunities to make a difference are more than we can count.  Sometimes that reality can be overwhelming.  Perhaps instead of counting the need we should be asking what we can do to help those in need.

In Matthew 25 Jesus is very clear about the importance of helping the hungry, thirsty, stranger, sick, destitute, and imprisoned.  His actual words are, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.”  The key word there is “one.”  If we are going to help anyone it must start with one and then hopefully it will extend to many others.

The story of Sir Nicholas Winton is an example of this.  He was a well to do stockbroker in London, England back in 1938 when he heard about the German Nazi’s marching into Czechoslovakia.  He read about the parents who were trying to get their children out of the country before the Nazi’s took them away to concentration camps.

Mr. Winton used two of his vacation weeks from work to fly to Prague and begin helping children find their way to safety.  After weeks and then months of work, over 600 children were saved by his efforts.  For over 50 years he humbly remained quiet about his massive effort to save the children.  

In 1988 the BBC invited him to a live television program and invited some of those 600 to sit next to him without his knowledge.  At one point of the program they all stood up around him as children who were saved by his humanitarian efforts.  He began to weep.  His effort to help one led to helping over 600.  In the years that followed he helped many mentally handicapped people and built homes for the elderly in England.

Helping a world in need begins with one and then extends to many others.  Recently, pastor and evangelist Billy Graham passed away.  I had to think about how his ministry of hope, salvation, and unity will extend on for generations.  One person who finds new life in Jesus Christ can then share that hope and new life with many others.  Just another reason for us to share the good news and do what we can for those in need.

Make it Personal:  Who is hungry, who is thirsty, who needs clothing, who needs housing, who needs a friend, who needs help?  Jesus encourages us to be on the lookout for these people in need and help them in his name.  The needs may be overwhelming if we look at the whole picture, but start with one person and then let it grow like a mustard seed (Mark 4:30-32)

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



What Will I Say Next?

 

Read: Matthew 7:24-27 & Proverbs 12:15

Recently I was watching a cable news channel and became frustrated with how the back and forth conversation was taking place.  The news person would ask a question and then before the other person could expound on their answer the newsperson began interrupting them and questioning them.

I have found that this is an increasing problem on programs like this and perhaps in our culture as a whole.  Many people will try to talk over the others which makes it hard to hear what anyone is saying.  My solution to the news channel dilemma is to turn the channel or turn the television off.

This got me to thinking about how we converse with each other.  How often do we truly listen to the other person speak before we begin to formulate our next line or argument?  In many cases people are not listening to what is being said, they are thinking about their next sentence.  I know that I am guilty of this too, but I am trying to make it an area of growth in my life.

In the Bible we are instructed many, many, times to listen to God and the ways of Jesus.  Our listening should start there, but we can also gain wise counsel from each other.  It is obvious that people in this world see things differently and live differently so here is a news flash; we probably won’t agree on everything.  But in Proverbs 12:15 it says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”

I have appreciated the many times in my life when I have gained understanding, a new perspective, and sometimes even a new direction.  Those times most often came when I turned a listening ear to someone and kept silent myself.  Instead of thinking about what I was going to say next I was reflecting on what the other person was saying.

When we listen to others we must always be sure that it lines up with the Word of God.  Listening to false teachers will only lead you down a dangerous path.  In Matthew 7 Jesus says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)  Listening is a valuable trait to have in our fast, loud, and opinionated culture.  We would do well to grow in this area.

Make it Personal:  How often do you find yourself thinking about what you will say next while the other person is speaking to you?  How often do you interrupt someone in mid-sentence?  Try to think about this and grow in your listening skills.  Most of all listen and give heed to what Jesus says about living life.  In other words, build your life on the rock!

Have a wonderful week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
 


Just Like Jesus

 

Read: 1 John 2:3-11         

One of my favorite Christian books is “Just Like Jesus” written by Max Lucado.  The subtitle to the book hits right at home with all us, it says, “God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way.  He wants you to be just like Jesus.”

The inside of the book cover continues on with some more great truth when it says, “Isn’t that good news?  You aren’t stuck with today’s personality. You aren’t condemned to grumpy-dom. You are changeable. You are tweakable. Even if you’ve worried each day of your life, you needn’t worry the rest of your life.  So what if you were born with a sour outlook, you don’t have to die with one. God will change you. And he will change you to be just like Jesus. Can you think of any better offer?”

Pastor Tony Evans tells about a picture that he has in his home by the front door.  It is a frame with two slots in it.  On one side of the frame is a picture of Tony when he was 18 years old, on the other side is a picture of his son when he was 18 years old.  He talks about how they look like twins in those pictures even though they are quite different in age.

The illustration is this.  As Christians we should like look Christ.  A connection has been made because of his sacrifice on Calvary and the essence of Jesus being transferred to those who are believers and his followers.  When people interact with us and see us in daily life they should marvel at the resemblance.

This is a tall order in light of Christ living a perfect life and our sinful lives that need his redemption, but the process of becoming Christ-like is a life long endeavor.  It must be our goal, our purpose, and our desire as we allow God to change us, mold us, and shape us into the people he has called us to be in this world. 

As the Bible says in 1 John 2:5-6, “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

Make it Personal:  Here is a final word from my favorite book mentioned above.  “Where did we get this idea that we can’t change?  From whence come statements such as, ‘It’s just my nature to worry.’  ‘I’ll always be pessimistic, I’m just that way.’ ‘I can’t help the way I react. I have a bad temper.”  Such thoughts are not from God.  God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you there.”

Blessings in your week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes
 


God is in Control

 
Read: Job 38 & 39
 
       In several recent publications I was struck by the way my birth year of 1968 was referred to.  50 years later one of them called it one of the most tumultuous years in America and the other referred to it as a very troubled time.  I had to wonder what my parents thought as they brought a new child into a world like this.  We often hear that reference made about children born today.

That year did have its share of trouble and turmoil.  Racial unrest, protests about the Vietnam War, a contentious Presidential election, violence at the Democratic convention in Chicago, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy which led to protests in over 100 U.S. cities were just some of the turmoil those publications spoke about. But what about the years of The Great Depression, the World Wars and Nazi concentration camps in Europe?  Tumultuous almost doesn’t seem like a strong enough word to describe those years.

Unfortunately, there always seems to be plenty of trouble and turmoil as time goes on.  While we should be aware and concerned of these things we should never lose sight of God’s sovereignty over us all.  Yes, God is in control and will remain in control despite the sin and wayward ways of humans and the leaders of the nations.

In the 38th and 39th chapters of Job the Lord asks Job who is in control.  The answer is obvious as the verses proceed to share that the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, marked off its dimensions, and controls the time, space, and endowment of creation.  Yes, God is in control even when humans try to act like they are.  Human sin, greed, hatred, and desire for control is what leads to all of the turmoil and trouble listed above.

Each year, decade, and century seem to bring new challenges for our world.  While we need to work for justice, share love, and spread the hope of Jesus Christ, we must always remember that God is sovereign, and that God is in control.  As Moses said in Deuteronomy 4:39, “Acknowledge and take heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below. There is no other.”

Make it Personal:  It’s easy to watch the news or read the newspaper and become distressed over many things going on in our world.  At times, 2018 may feel like 1968.  But instead of responding with despair, Christians must declare the hope of Christ and the sovereignty of God in this world.  The Creator is still in charge of the created.  God is in control despite human efforts to take that control away.

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church


How to Pray

 

Read: Matthew 6:5-13          

Depending on who you talk to you might get many different answers about how we are to pray to God.  In Matthew 6:5-13 Jesus gives us some guidance.  First, he talks about our approach to prayer and then he gives us some specific words to pray.  Depending on which translation of the Bible you use this prayer might be a little different, but the actual words, nature, and purpose of the prayer are the same.

Praying to God can happen in many different ways, in essence it is actually a conversation between the created and the Creator.  As pastor and author Max Lucado says, “Prayer reminds you who is in charge.  You don’t take your requests to someone with less authority.  You take them to someone who outranks you in the solutions department.  Prayer decreases you and increases God.”

At the same time, our God is a personal God who wants to converse with you about the important things in your life as well as the things that you might think are more trivial.  God cares about all of it.  We don’t need to change our voice, assume a certain posture, or even close our eyes in order to talk with God.  If you pray while you are driving, please keep your eyes open.

Jesus does encourage us to pray with humility.  In verse 5 he says, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.”  Jesus isn’t saying that we can’t pray together in church or with other people, he is just reminding us about the attitude we should have when we go to the Lord in prayer.

Many people have memorized the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 in either the King James version or the New International Version.  Here is how pastor Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in the Message Bible, “Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are.  Set the world right; Do what’s best, as above, so below.  Keep us alive with three square meals.  Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.  Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.  You’re in charge!  You can do anything you want!  You’re ablaze in beauty!  Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Make it Personal:  God loves you and wants to be a part of your everyday life.  Prayer is one of the ways to invite Jesus into the situations and circumstances that you face.  All you have to do is talk to God and share your heart.  The Lord also speaks to us through the Bible, take some time this week to open your Bible while you pray.

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



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